Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

Art and revolution

Painted by Millet Las espigadoras, that painting hanging from the walls of so many houses, that painting that is part of the decoration of so many shops and establishments, that work that represents a scene of the agricultural works of the past, perhaps because of its beauty, or perhaps because of its light, is undoubtedly considered a fundamental work of the History of Art.

I want to explain to everyone who wants to hear every time I find the picture, wherever, and to anyone who does not want to hear, that painting does not represent a rural bucolic scene. Art, of course, but also revolution. Artwork for protest and social reporting.

And so, being revolutionary, the painter Jean-François Millet was rejected. The Nordic peasant, who so often rightly welcomed in the art rooms, the bourgeoisie then, who was the main consumer of art, did not like the scenes of the “farmhouse” or the messages of his painting, accused him of being “socialist” and called it “dangerous”, precisely because of his ideas capable of transmitting through his art. That's why he didn't sell work until almost the end of his life. No one with economic capacity wanted to buy real images about poverty, because it's hard for them to look in front of it like today.

That's exactly Las Espigadoras: a scene of poverty and austerity in rural life. The painting represents an ancient custom of local law in many villages of the agricultural tradition, known as the spigueo: once the grain harvest was collected and harvested, widows and orphans were allowed to enter fields and fields so that uncollected cattle were taken.

Millet reflects the social inequality and cruelty of the desire to undo the habit of the poor going
forward at that time. All this with an image of complete calm

And that's what the women in the image are doing, folding the thorns, because the harvest is rolled up. It's from others. And as you can see in the background, that harvest is picked up and accumulated in warehouses, and the peasants take it in a car that's full and overflowing. Women, on the other hand, have in their hands a number of asparagus, remnants of that harvest from others, and those women who survived on the left that habit that is not written with time. Over time, and to a greater extent by the efforts of the most feeble of private property, this unwritten custom was reduced and became a minority tradition.

Born in northern France, these women have brown faces and hands. Her skin is complicated because hours and hours have been working outdoors, in the sun and under adverse weather conditions. All this to get food. Millet considers the poverty of these women linked to survival as the protagonist. Any woman can be because you don't see the characteristics of her faces. They have no definite personality, they have no identity. They are only women and poor. Of course, they are women in the middle of the 19th century, but as peasant women in the Middle Ages, or as women in different regions of the world today: poor.

In fact, he made the painting after the agricultural revolutions that took place in France between 1830 and 1848. The peasants protested to continue using the usual tools in the growing fields. In fact, there were protests among the incidents about continuing to use the sickle instead of the rake. The complaint was no small. In this case, once cut with the scylla and passed the rake, there was no head to pick up in the fields, so, although it did not cancel the right, it annulled the real possibility of making a spike. Millet reflects the social inequality and cruelty of the desire to undo the habit of the poor going forward at that time. All this with an image of total calm. Here Millet, disturbing and dangerous. As it is today being disqualified, against barbarism and crimes against humanity, or against the massacre of a people.

I will never get tired of looking at Las Espigadoras, even though it has become such a well-known icon and its original meaning is unknown. It is in our hands the ability to recover and disseminate their denunciation and their message for humanity.

Estibaliz González Dios (molded by Maider Etxagibel)

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